Boulder City Council approves 2022 budget at first reading

Boulder City Council last week announced its initial support for a $ 462.5 million spending plan that the city sees as the start of economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2022 draft budget – which includes $ 300.1 million in its operating budget and $ 162.4 million in its investment budget – was adopted on Tuesday at first reading without any significant changes. Very few people spoke during the public hearing, which worries some elected officials.

“I, too, find it disappointing that when we allocate half a billion dollars and lock in what will essentially be our work plan for the next year, we get so little public testimony,” said Adam Swetlik, member. advice.

He argued that the city should work on awareness and education about the budget and its impact on the following year. A second public hearing will be held at the October 19 city council meeting in Boulder.

In the coming year’s budget, Boulder officials focused primarily on the city’s ability to restore services that were cut or reduced in 2020 and 2021. The budget is a “testament to the resilience of the city. city, ”according to city director Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde.

Boulder Station 3 firefighters Hannah Harrington, left, and Thomas Spannring check snorkel gear Wednesday on a fire truck in September. Boulder released its 2022 budget, which proposes that the fire department receive funds for additional staff. (Cliff Grassmick / Personal Photographer)

“Our revenue forecast has been more favorable than expected, which has led us to be cautiously optimistic,” she said.

Last year, due to financial hardships from the pandemic, Boulder laid off staff and put employees on leave. He did not offer merit-based raises or increases to anyone other than members of the Boulder Police Officer’s Association, whose members received raises due to a contract that required it.

However, in 2022, the city intends to allocate around $ 3 million to support its staff and will reinstate merit increases for unionized and non-union municipal employees. It will also bring back nearly 60 full-time employees and extend 18 contract positions.

The city relies heavily on sales tax, which accounts for about a third of its annual revenue. In 2022, it expects around $ 56.17 million in retail sales tax, almost $ 4 million more than it ended with last year.

However, while the overall budget is around 35% higher than what city council approved in 2021, expected revenues have not fully rebounded.

The finance department expects accommodation taxes and revenues other than sales and use taxes, property taxes, and parking fees and fines to remain down.

In terms of service restoration, Boulder plans to partially restore Boulder Arts Week, and has allocated a significant amount to restore services to the Boulder Public Library.

Brautigum

Additionally, budget documents indicate that there will be a significant investment in Boulder’s open space and mountain parks and parks and recreation, primarily to restore and improve maintenance services for both departments.

Open Space and Mountain Parks are expected to receive around $ 1.3 million, which will bring the department back to pre-pandemic levels.

The Department of Parks and Recreation will receive funding for similar purposes, including money for an additional maintenance person to help in downtown Boulder, the Civic Zone and Columbia Cemetery, all of which experienced “Increased use and pressure, especially as a result of deferred maintenance during COVID,” according to a staff note.

Additionally, with bond funding, Boulder is planning some expensive capital projects, including a $ 44.5 million sewer improvement project.

There was a discussion Tuesday on whether the city should increase its reserves in order to meet the 20% target set by former city manager Jane Brautigam. While most of the agreed-upon reservations are significant, board members also stressed the importance of restoring services.

“We need to balance this to ensure that we are adequately funding the needs of our community at all times,” Mayor Sam Weaver said at the meeting.

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